FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.20.20

Dear friends,

I hope you are having a good week. We had several happy occasions at Avalon recently, including birthdays, an Avalon anniversary, a wedding, and even a new baby! Special congratulations to Avalon Office Manager Cherea Stoney on her marriage, and to Director of Client Reporting and Data Management Kate Cecchini Beaver on the arrival of her daughter.

There is good industry news too. I have two fundraising reports, both of which validate what Avalon is seeing for our clients. First, Q2 data from donorCentrics shows a 10.5% revenue increase over 2019, and the number of donors was up by 6.9%. This incorporates a 23% lift in new donors, so get ready to hear a lot more from me about how to keep these folks around for their second gift! Leveraging this momentum will be key.

Second, mid-year data from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project tells a similar story. Q1 giving lagged behind 2019 by 6%, but Q2 saw a 12% increase, which left many nonprofits in a great position at the end of June. Notably, gifts under $250 increased by nearly 20%, and both revenue and the number of donors are at their highest points in five years. Even better, they report an increase of donors giving more than one gift, which bodes well for the sustainability of these gains.

Expanding the lens, recent national news has been dominated by Supreme Court confirmation hearings – the latest urgent front in an aggressive year of challenge and change. If you’re like me and love history, you may also enjoy this long-view perspective. Long story short, 2020 made it into the Boston Globe’s top five craziest years in American history.

I have also learned so much from the New York Times’s 1619 Project – a series of content that presents the role of slavery in American history. Their Race/Related newsletter recently covered the discourse around the Project’s core idea that “1619, when enslaved Africans first landed in Virginia, was as much of a founding date for the United States as 1776.” I encourage you to explore these resources, if you haven’t already.

In business news, this profile of Joe’s Stone Crab also stood out to me. A number of years ago I went to dinner at “Joe’s” for the first time in Miami during a conference, and I absolutely loved it. Their DC location is just across the street from our office and is a favorite happy hour spot. They are a 100-year-old restaurant that has survived multiple economic downturns and a changing industry. The story talks about how they built a business that works for everyone – including not only the owners, but also the customers, the staff, and their suppliers. I find this example of interdependence, mutual benefit, and organizational resilience very inspiring as a business owner.

Joe’s Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Washington, DC 15th st. location

Finally, the cooler days remind me that winter is coming. With it, we enter a new phase of distancing, in which the outdoors may be less accessible. Avalon VP Dara Igersheim shared this Vox article on How to Make This Winter Not Totally Suck, and this stood out to me: “A great option is to perform an act of kindness ­– like donating to charity or volunteering to read to a child or elderly person online.” We are fortunate to work in an industry that makes this path to kindness possible.

I am also looking forward to some good movie time in the months ahead. This week Avalon is launching a Film Club on creativity, in which we will discuss inspiring creative stories like Beyonce’s Homecoming, the new Steve Jobs documentary, other artist and innovator profiles, and even some Ted talks. The American Film Institute’s AFI Fest is also happening right now, if you need inspiration or want to start a film club of your own.

Take care,